Monday, November 4, 2013


If you are following the American food product recalls put out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA/FSIS), you will occasionally see the words “Class I Recall.” So what does that mean?

Class I food recalls are the worst kind. Putting it most simply, these are recalls of contaminated food that, if you ate it, could not just make you sick, or send you to the hospital, but kill you (or, in the case of pregnant women, their unborn child).

Here’s the official definition of a Class I recall:

This is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

An example of this kind of recall is the ongoing one by Reser’s Fine Foods which involves hundreds of products distributed nationwide in the U.S. and in Canada (in fact, it was microbiological testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Canadians – not the American testing – that turned up the problem ).

So why can these innocent sounding recalled salads, spreads, dips and other ready-to-eat (convenience)food products be so deadly? Because they may be contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Take special care pregnant women and elderly or ill people whose immune system is no longer functioning 100%.

And don’t let the wording of the recalls fool you. Yes, it may be true that no illnesses were reported from most of the products recalled – as yet. It could take 70 or more days for the symptoms to appear.

So much for “fine” foods.

To your good health,


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